Global economy in the cloud: reliable protection of core processes


Website:
butlers.com
Industry:
Business-IT
About BUTLERS:

Living accessories and gift ideas. With 800 employees and 120 branches in Germany and abroad, the company sells products for living, decorating, furnishing and cooking to 40 million branch visitors annually and over 5 million visitors to www.butlers.com.

You always have a competent contact person and very short support channels. Even if we need help quickly, communication is open and transparent. Partnership at eye level is not an empty promise at gridscale. Such a good cooperation is really rare.

Andre Martens, Head of IT, BUTLERS GmbH & Co. KG

Living accessories and gift ideas. With 800 employees and 120 branches in Germany and abroad, the company sells products for living, decorating, furnishing and cooking to 40 million branch visitors annually and over 5 million visitors to www.butlers.com.

With its concept as a lifestyle brand “for guests and hosts”, BUTLERS also equips retail chains such as C&A, REWE Group, INTERSPAR and NKD. For a retail company, minute-fast scalability, 24/7 high availability and data security of the IT infrastructure are business-critical. The BUTLERS GmbH & Co. KG has therefore deliberately decided to rely on gridscale for the company’s core IT processes. The experience for BUTLERS is so convincing that the company is gradually dissolving all remaining own IT structures and migrating them to the gridscale cloud.

STARTING POSITION & OBJECTIVES

In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, BUTLERS operates its own stores and an online store. In other countries franchise is the mainstay of the company’s growth. BUTLERS branches now exist in the Ukraine, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Malta, France, Luxembourg, Greece and Ireland. In addition to branch trading, online trading is also becoming increasingly important for the company. BUTLERS already generates 20% of its turnover through its online store and via large marketplaces such as Amazon, Otto or eBay.

BUTLERS shows how to emerge from a corporate crisis stronger with the right strategy. After a restructuring phase of only eight months, BUTLERS started an impressive success story in 2017. In 2019, the BUTLERS Group’s corporate growth was 8 %, with an upward trend. The driving force behind the upswing are the BUTLERS branches in highly frequented inner city locations. A fast and reliable IT infrastructure is essential for internationally networked merchandise management. »Our focus is on sales and our brand idea«, explains Andre Martens, Head of IT at BUTLERS, »and this extends right through to IT. We want to ensure that we can present and sell our brand. It doesn’t make sense for our concept to take care of hard drives and servers. I want to make sure that the tableware set or table decoration is sold at the cash register and I don’t want to worry about whether all hard drives in the RAID are healthy or could fail. Our IT infrastructure should be taken care of by someone who is specialized in this area.«

Seasonal fluctuations in the demand for resources

However, the demands on an IT partner are high. This is due, among other things, to the high number of accesses and the considerable seasonal fluctuations. At peak times, BUTLERS’ IT systems have to handle up to 12,000 database transactions per second. The second challenge is to adapt the IT infrastructure to the changing utilization of resources. During the important sales periods like Easter and especially during the Christmas business, significantly more IT capacities are needed than in the rest of the year. However, keeping resources available that are not fully utilized during the rest of the year is a cost factor that should definitely be saved. The flexibility required in the retail industry can only be achieved cost-effectively today in a virtualized IT environment. The move of the entire system to the cloud was therefore for BUTLERS a logical step.

Reliable performance, fast scalability and a cost-effective billing model were among the important factors when choosing a new provider. However, initial experiences with other providers were not convincing for the IT managers at BUTLERS. »We would have liked the ability to dynamically adjust our resources at any time and scale vertically«, says Andre Martens, describing the problem. »But we bought CPU, RAM and other components from the previous provider for the Christmas business, which had been idle for nine months and were only really used for three months. We could not implement a more flexible model with the old provider. This is how the contact with gridscale finally came about.«

REALIZATION

The technical conception and approach of gridscale convinced BUTLERS right away. »We were looking for a cloud partner on whom we can absolutely rely. We need both high availability and speed. It is of no use if the server is available but the response times are around 20 milliseconds because the Internet line is busy or there is a problem in the routing«. Already after the first discussions with gridscale they were sure to have found the right partner. The experts of gridscale presented a technically convincing concept, which was at the same time significantly below the previous IT costs.

In addition to the technical competence, BUTLERS was also impressed by the communication and project management on the part of gridscale. »The cooperation was immediately incredibly uncomplicated«, says Andre Martens. Within a very short time, a concept for a particularly fast migration was developed together. BUTLERS was able to easily migrate, adapt and expand its existing infrastructure setup to the gridscale cloud. To this day, we are still impressed by the consulting and the fast migration: »It was outstanding and on a level that I have rarely experienced before.« Within a very short time BUTLERS was able to move the first 17 servers to gridscale.

Performance in core business processes

Today, the complete purchasing, disposition, storage system and fulfillment runs on virtual servers of the gridscale cloud. The BUTLERS GmbH trusts completely in the performance and reliability of gridscale for its worldwide merchandise management – up to the branch stocking of all stores. Additionally, the company operates e-mail and active directory servers, file servers and monitoring servers. A direct connection via the gridscale RESTful API ensures a reliable communication with the applications of external partners. For test runs and simulations, servers can be cloned and booted easily and within minutes. The intuitive interface of the partner panel makes this easy and straightforward, as Andre Martens confirms: »We can create a server within two minutes, use it for 20 minutes and then delete it again. We do this regularly and this is a great benefit of the gridscale panel.«

CONCLUSIONS

A particular advantage in the retail business is the flexibility of the gridscale infrastructure. For example, BUTLERS uses an inventory server once a year, which is shut down during the rest of the year and therefore does not incur any costs. This possibility of a seamless scaling of all systems is particularly evident during the Christmas business, where no bottlenecks are allowed to occur. Even high performance peaks do not lead to any limitations in availability and processing speed. This flexibility, with which it is possible to react within a few minutes in an emergency, is of particular importance for BUTLERS’ business model: »This is where we can play off a major advantage of gridscale«, confirms Andre Martens. »We simply ramp up our resources at the required time, pay only for a few weeks or months and then ramp them down again. With gridscale we are completely dynamic.« At the same time, the IT infrastructure does not cause unnecessary costs, because with gridscale’s low-cost pay-as-you-go model, only what is actually used is billed.

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